Riviera Nayarit is home to the Islas Marietas National Park. One of the most beautiful and fascinating beaches in the park is Playa Escondida, also known as playa del Amor, inside a crater created by a volcanic eruption, or nuclear testing by the Mexican Government. Truth is, there are many stories about what created this unique destination.
This lost paradise is characterized by its unusual setting of transparent waters without waves and very fine sand, which feels very soft to the touch, under a huge hole in the rocky ceiling.
Bottlenose dolphins, olive ridley turtles, giant manta rays, and the mighty humpback whales, which travel from Alaska in search of warmer waters, can be seen in the surroundings of Las Marietas.
The brown and blue-footed booby birds, when they are not flying in the area, are resting or walking in the archipelago. These birds can only be seen here or on the Galapagos Islands.
How to visit the Marietas Islands?
Because it is a hidden paradise in the Marietas Islands, the only way to get to Playa Escondida is by hiring a tour with a certified and authorized tour operator or guide.
Most of the tour operators include in their packages a kayak or boat ride, and the possibility of snorkeling or diving in the surroundings of the island to discover the marine wealth of Las Marietas. In the boats they offer you food and drinks during the trip, they last from 3 to 4 hours round trip and it depends on the activities that they carry out during the trip.
To access Playa Escondida you will have to jump into the water and swim to the shore passing through a dark cave. During the crossing, you will be guided by an expert who knows the route and the beach very well.
This tour can only be done while the tide is low, otherwise, you will not be able to access Playa Escondida as it is dangerous.
Playa Escondida is closed Monday and Tuesday. Access is limited to 117 visitors, who can only stay 15 minutes.
How much does it cost to visit Playa Escondida?
Tourist companies usually leave from the ports of Punta de Mita , La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nuevo Vallarta or Bucerías. It is essential to hire an authorized company because it is a Natural Protected Area. Tourists are prohibited from traveling independently and, therefore, massive access is prevented.
There are several service providers responsible for taking tourists to visit the Hidden Beach of the Marietas Islands. Richard Zarkin, director of Public Relations for Tourism in the Riviera Nayarit recommended two tour operators that have the necessary permits to carry out this tour.
One of them is Punta Mita Adventures, which has a complete package to visit the famous Playa del Amor. In a zodiac-type inflatable boat, they take a small group of visitors. You will be able to snorkel through and around the caves and arches of Playa Escondida and tour the Marietas Islands on board, while the guide tells you all the details of this natural wonder so that you leave with a lot of knowledge.
The package includes a light snack, life jacket, water, and snorkel gear. The rate per person is $3,129 pesos ($175 USD), although this season it has a special cost of $2,190 pesos ($125 USD). To hire a package you can visit vallarta-adventures.com
Another of the tour operators is Punta Mita Charters, a company formed by the Corral del Risco Cooperative Society that has 23 boats to make tours in the area. Your package to visit Playa del Amor costs $1,700 pesos. The duration of the trip is 3 hours. In addition to visiting the beach, they can also snorkel and swim around the island.
The package includes snorkeling equipment, fins, and life jackets. For more information, you can enter the website puntamitacharters.com.
Advice before traveling to the Marietas Islands
The Marietas archipelago was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Therefore, those who visit it must be responsible travelers, that is, help with the preservation and maintenance of the area. So, don’t be surprised if there are service providers that ask for an extra fee of $100 pesos per person for the conservation of this paradise.
Tour operators must have certifications to carry out this visit, while visitors are obliged to respect the instructions of the guides. To help preserve nature in this area for future visitors, please ask to see your tour guide’s certifications to know you are using a tour service that is regulated and required to follow environmental preservation guidelines.
Richard Zarkin recommends using only biodegradable sunscreen, not generating garbage, not touching the corals, and much less trying to get close to marine fauna. A qualified tour guide should make sure these recommendations are followed.
Zarkin also explains that a great season to visit the Riviera Nayarit is during the winter. You will not only be amazed by the beauty of Playa Escondida, but also by the beautiful ‘show’ that the humpback whales give in one of their natural habitats.
“Those who want to vacation in the summer, on a long weekend, or in the winter in the Riviera de Nayarit, do not forget to go to this iconic place that, in turn, is part of the group of islands that exist in Nayarit. It will be a beautiful image that you will carry in your memory”, emphasized Richard Zarkin.
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